Meet the next gen of the Gold Coast art scene: John Anthony Forno

While the world stage is quite chaotic with political, economic and environmental uncertainty, not to even mention the global pandemic, homegrown arts are full of passion, bursting with creativity and definitely going places. John Anthony Forno, Anna Carey and Jay Jermyn are recent graduates from Griffith University making their mark on the art world here and overseas.

“[Young] Gold Coast artists are raising the profile of art from the Gold Coast, artists like Jay Jermyn, a finalist of the Byron Arts Prize, and Anna Carey, a finalist of the Fishers Ghost Award at the Campbelltown Arts Centre,” John Forno said. And Jonathon himself was a finalist for the Queensland Environmental Sculpture Award held in Maleny some weeks back.

John described his art and the personal nature of it.

“[In my art] I utilise play, environment, scale, memory and nostalgia to create bridges between my past and the present offering me the opportunity to explore the underlying theme of play and its effects on my self-esteem.”

John is no stranger to exhibiting his work on the Gold Coast either, with SWELL Sculpture Festival this past September being one of the more recent exhibitions on the coast.

“My sculpture Totem/The Fragile, exhibited at Swell Sculpture Festival, is a 3m x 3m origami sculpture made of 100% recyclable composite board. [It is] an origami parrot and koala on top of an origami kangaroo, which addressed the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020.

“It broke my heart seeing moving and still images continuously bombarding my Instagram feed during that horrific season of koalas scurrying across hot coals dehydrated and kangaroos charred against fences trying to escape the fires.

“I was honoured to share [this work] with the Sunshine Coast also as they too had suffered immensely under the 2019/2020 bushfire season.”

While all art and artistic expression is often loud and aimed at creating an impact, the young voices have an uncanny ability to be even more in the moment, capture the thoughts and worries of their generations and draw the light specifically on these issues.

“Australian and World politics are like being in the studio audience of a poorly executed Netflix drama,” said John.

“American politics is a complete shitshow right now and as for the Australian Government’s unwillingness to sign the new Climate Accords along with five of the other great polluters of the world is downright disgusting.”

“My sculpture Life Buoy/Black Gold will be heading to London in the new year in response to this very subject for a group exhibition under the theme of a current social, political and cultural issue. Climate Change encompasses every facet of those three themes and is just as important to conquer quickly as Covid-19,” John said.

But after all said above, there is no denying the excitement and positivity of being part of the art world today.

“It is extremely positive to see the value that the City of Gold Coast and Queensland Government is placing in the arts through their Germinate and Activate Grant Programs.

“This is an exciting time to be an artist on the Gold Coast, the arts and culture sector is becoming a melting pot of critical thinkers and thought-provoking creatives that are responding to the current political, social, cultural and economic state of the world.

“The Gold Coast is abuzz with ever-growing creative energy, which I’m stoked to be a part of,” he summarised.

In large parts, the art scene on the Gold Coast is much like the city itself; young, vibrant and going to places. Follow John @johnanthonyforno.


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